Scott, Johnson to lead Lafayette against Stanford Saturday

By: Matt Long, Sports Editor
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Bryce Scott’s freshman year at Lafayette College is off to a great start, both academically and athletically.

Scott, a 2012 graduate from Oak Ridge, is playing 17 minutes and averaging six points per game and on Dec. 9 hit a game-winning three-pointer at the buzzer to give the Leopards a 72-70 win over Sacred Heart.

A super freshman year gets even better Saturday when Scott, Folsom’s Tony Johnson and the rest of the men’s basketball team plays at Stanford at 7:30 p.m. Family and friends of both players will make the 140-mile drive to watch them play.

“I’ve got a lot of people coming and it’s going to be fun to play in front of family and friends back where it all started,” Scott said.

Johnson added, “As a senior, I’ve waited four years to play in front of family and friends so this is going to be great. To be a senior and starting point guard, I’m looking forward to the game and it will be an honor to play in front of family and friends.”

Scott is working hard, between the academic workload of a college freshman along with the five to six hours of basketball each day. While he’s plenty busy, he’s enjoying his life.

“Everything is going great; I absolutely love it,” he said. “Finals just ended and I did well in school and basketball is going great. I’m feeling more comfortable every day.”

Not that he expected to ride the bench, but Scott is thrilled to be playing as much as he is. He’s also happy with how he’s played, considering it’s a big step from high school to collegiate basketball. Like most athletes moving on to college, the speed of the game, as well as the additional workload, has been the toughest part to adjust to.

“I’m really blessed and I feel fortunate to be getting the playing time that I’m getting,” Scott said. “I have stretches where I’ve played well and other stretches when I’ve played like you might expect a freshman to play. I’ve definitely got lots of room for improvement.”

Scott’s played mostly shooting guard for the Leopards, who won five of their first 13 games, which places him in the backcourt with Johnson, the team’s starting point guard and team leader. Johnson is playing 30 minutes per game, averaging 11 points, five assists and three rebounds. Johnson has served as a tremendous role model for Scott, who said Johnson is the best point guard and team leader he’s ever played with.

Johnson is glad to have someone who lives so close to him at home with him all the way across the country. He said Scott has been playing well.

“Bryce has done a great job preparing and is always working to improve and the coaching staff and the players have confidence in him,” Johnson said.

On top of being from the same part of the country, the two have become good friends and it was Johnson who got the assist on Scott’s first game-winning shot of his young collegiate career.

“The plan was to have the ball in Tony’s hands and I knew he was going to find someone open,” Scott said. “As soon as my guy went to help (as Tony drove into the lane) he got me the ball. My guy was coming at me hard so I pump faked and then I let it go and fortunately it went in. It’s indescribable. Everything that I’ve dreamed about happened right in front of me. Our team stormed the court and it was just awesome. It was fun.”

Johnson said, “He puts the work in so I’m not surprised that the shot went in. He’s a confident kid and he’s done everything right so far.”

While Scott is at the beginning of his collegiate career, Johnson is nearing the end of his. Scheduled to graduate in May with a degree in Economics, Johnson is enjoying his senior year as much as Scott is enjoying his freshman season.

“This season is going pretty good so far,” he said. “We’ve played a pretty tough schedule and lost some games that we probably should have won and at the same time, I think we’ve won some games that people didn’t think we would win. As long as we continue to improve, that’s all that matters.”

Johnson said the team’s goal is to win the Patriot League. It’s also the only goal that matters to Johnson.

“We reached the championship game my freshman and sophomore years and lost to Lehigh and Bucknell,” Johnson said. “Winning the Patriot League is our main goal this year. If we achieve that, any individual goals I might have will map themselves out from the success of the team.”